The fading colours of diversity

In Saddar area, it was as though my surroundings breathed an entire history of the city


Zahidun Nisa August 21, 2014

As a child, I used to pass through the bustling Zaibunnisa Street in Saddar, Karachi every day while going to school. There was something about the Saddar area, where my school was, which made me feel complete. It was as though my surroundings breathed an entire history of the city. The magnificent, white St Patrick’s Cathedral and a small but flamboyant mandir in a neighbourhood in Guru Mandir - the presence of these places made me form a story in my mind of the city when it was an eclectic mix which reflected tolerance among the masses. These places speak of the time when our society was inclusive, when a Christian was as free to pay a visit to the Church on Sundays as a Muslim was to visit a mosque on Fridays. However, the intolerance towards religious minorities, which started mere decades ago, and has taken a rise recently, has instilled a fear in me – a fear of living in a city void of its true colours, which are fading behind the dust and smoke of bombs and guns. The recent killing of a Sikh boy, Jagmohan Singh, in Peshawar and the twin blasts in a church in the same city in 2013, are reflective of a future in which the minorities of the country will either reduce to texts in history books or keep themselves discreet enough so as to stay safe from the intolerant mobs.

Initially, there were the extremist groups which were nurtured by successive governments. Now, the intolerance from them has over-spilled, and the air of hatred has started taking over the masses under cover. The intimidation of the religious minorities has formed angry mobs out of people who might have otherwise been ‘normal’. In May last year, some people (not terrorists) attacked and destroyed Joseph Colony, a largely Christian area in Lahore. They did so after a resident was accused of blasphemy. I wish people gave as much consideration to other laws, as they give to the blasphemy law. Although this law is meant to safeguard the integrity of Muslim beliefs, it is often used to snap at religious minorities.

If such events continue to happen unabashedly, I’m afraid that the temples which, to some extent, are still alive and frequented by people of many colourful beliefs will cease to exist. The generations to come will merely learn about such diversity in books and will never be able to feel it on their skins.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2014.

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COMMENTS (6)

observer | 6 years ago | Reply @Salim Alvi. Elvis Presley, not Pissley!!!.
Salim Alvi | 6 years ago | Reply

Diversity is enemy of alien abrahamic faiths who came up since 300 AD. Romans who did not tolerate Jesus's Yog & Dhyan based individual practices had to persecute him, since he was hurting their tax collection and later same Romans used Jesus's name to create an armed legion of cannon fodder converts who were promised durbari positions and share of of loot and plunder. Romans had to create distant natives as enemy of their Armed legion called Christianity. Originally Pagan meant civil. Indeed they were Civilized compared to barbaric Romans. Same model of empire building was used by Bedouins. They destroyed natives of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt in 40 years with no trace of native spirituality, language and even culture. Civilized Persians are trying to maintain their culture and language with a sect of ShiaIsm. By design enslaving, empire building One God, One Abrahamic Spiritual Model (exception original Abrahamics ie Jews), One Language (Arabi, Urdu, Latin), One Pope, One Khilafa, One Sacred Land, One Book, One Super Race cannot tolerate diversity. You are asking too much by cajoling for celebration of diversity, esp native one. Elites in Pakistan will celebrate Madonna, Elvis Pissley while drinking Anglo whiskey but that is the limit.

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